The recent launch of a new internet exchange point in Saint Martin has propelled the territory towards a better, faster and more resilient Internet.
An internet exchange point, or IXP, is a piece of physical infrastructure that allows network operators to interconnect and exchange traffic locally without having to resort to expensive international routes. The territory’s new IXP, called Smart-IX, was launched at the offices of the Collectivité of Saint Martin in Marigot.
“In Saint Martin, Internet access has become absolutely essential to the everyday life of our population and our visitors. The Collectivité of Saint Martin will continue to support the establishment of underlying Internet infrastructure on an impartial and neutral basis, so that access can be made available to all users,” said Mr. Alain Richardson, 1st Vice-President of Saint Martin.
“Through the CaribIX project, our aim is to create a digital bridge to existing internet infrastructure in Sint Maarten, to facilitate inter-island traffic exchange. The growth of Smart-IX will redound to the economic development of the island,” he added.
The launch comes under the auspices of the CaribIX project, which is coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). In April, a delegation headed by Mr. Rodney Taylor, CTU Secretary General, visited Mr. Mussington, H.E. Xavier Lédée, President of the Collectivité of Saint Barthélémy and Mr. Jean Claude Nelson, 9th Vice-President, Regional Council of Guadeloupe.
“The Smart-IX launch comes after a long period of strategic collaboration between government, private sector and technical actors across the English and French-speaking Caribbean,” said Mr Gary Kalloo, Director Business Development and Implementation Support, CTU, and Project Coordinator of the CaribIX Project.
The launch was followed by the signing of an IXP memorandum of understanding, which signifies the willingness of the first Smart-IX members to begin peering. Signatories included Alain Richardson, 1st Vice President, Saint Martin; Eve Riboud, CEO, Dauphin Telecom; Jean Arnell, CEO, Computech; and Kendall Dupersoy, CEO, TELEM.
“More participants are expected to join as Smart-IX continues to develop and grow,” Kalloo added.
A CTU team of IXP development experts, supported by the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), visited Saint Martin from October 17 to 21 to conduct hardware installation, software configuration and human resource development.
“Smart-IX’s installed hardware includes a Cisco ASR router, two Cisco Nexus switches, and two Dell management servers, as well as a Fortinet firewall for secure access to remote management. IXP Manager software was also installed, for infrastructure management and traffic monitoring,” said Stephen Lee, CaribIX Senior Technical Specialist and CaribNOG Program Director.
CaribIX also aims to set up and grow internet exchange points in Saint Barthélemy and Guadeloupe, and promises to deliver better Internet performance, resilience and security across the three territories. In July, the CaribIX team completed a critical step in the growth and development of the Saint Barthélémy Internet Exchange, called SBH-IX, when Internet Service Providers met to sign a memorandum of understanding signalling their agreement to begin peering.
There are hundreds of IXPs in the world, with more than a dozen already in the Caribbean, including Belize, Curacao, Grenada, Haiti, Saint Barthélemy, St Maarten, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, and ongoing development work in Guadeloupe and St Kitts.
The CaribIX project was formally launched in a virtual ceremony in March, and received funding from the INTERREG Caraïbes programme, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.